The danger with operating a motorcycle in New York is very high. Most people choose not to engage in the activity as there are too many cars and the ability for those operating motorcyles to safely operate is low. Moreover, the risk of injury is high and usually the injuries are very serious
In handling these cases, Leav & Steinberg is aware of many facets of the law that protect this class of individuals. For example under New York Law, a person injured by a vehicle must have a serious injury as defined by the New York State Insurance Law Section 5102. That section has 7 definitions and an injured party must meet at least one of them in order to bring a claim for personal injuries. These definitions are:
- Significant and disfiguring scar
- A significant limitation of a body function or system
- A permanent limitation of a body system or members
- A medically determined injury that impairs your abililty to perform your usual and customary daily activity for at least 90 out of the first 180 days
- A fracture to a bone.
The insurance company defending a party who caused an accident will go to extreme measures to prove that the above categories are not met and therefore those injuries do not qualify for a financial recovery for the pain and suffering. They will hire doctors and radiologists even when the xrays show a fracture and argue that one doesn't exist. Even if the person has a herniated disc in their spine they will argue it's not significant or serious.
In exchange for this restriction, those injured by a motor vehicle can get No-fault Benefits automatically regardless of the level of injury.
This is not the case for those operating a motorcycle. As No-fault coverage does not exist for this class of operators, they are not required to prove that their injury meets the serious injury threshold of Section 5102 of the Insurance Law. This can be very helpful as, though the injures are often serious, we have had client's who have spinal and ligament injuries that if they were in a car would not have been able to recover for their pain and suffering.
The other concern is addressing juror perception in representing an operator of a motorcycle. In New York City, as with bicyclists, many citizens feel that they operate in a dangerous manner, with reckless abandon and a lack of concern for the safety of others. Despite this, we have frequently been able to show jurors as well as judges that our client's in fact, take the rules of the road seriously and more often than not are without fault.
A recent example of Leav & Steinberg's success in this area was a matter settled by a former police captain of a local police department. He was following the rules of the road riding his motorcycle when a vehicle was pulling out of a driveway and struck him causing very serious injuries. Despite the car operator's version that it was our client's fault, we were able through speed and distance testing as well as visual evidence to prove that the car had failed to yield the right of way to our client. The result was a significant recovery for his injuries; a recovery that was the full limits of the responsible car's insurance policy.